One of the things I enjoy most about trade shows is talking with the other attendees about what’s going on in their business. At Cloud Expo, I had lunch with an IT manager from MetLife and learned how they’re rolling out an exciting automobile insurance program.
In July this year MetLife announced a partnership with GM. MetLife is providing auto insurance at no additional cost with the purchase of a new GM vehicle. The program has evidently been a big success and attracting lots of new business for MetLife, as the initial two state pilot was quickly followed with an expansion into 15 more states.
But, you ask, why do I care? What do insurance and car buying have to do with private clouds and DevOps? Plenty, as it turns out.
If you’re rolling out a new line of business and you’re not really sure how it’s going to go, you want to keep flexibility at a maximum and investment at a minimum. For MetLife, the combination of DevOps practices and shared cloudy infrastructure was exactly the right combination.
Unless you’re in the insurance business, you probably don’t know that in the United States, insurance is regulated on a state by state basis. That means 50 different sets of laws, 50 different regulatory agencies, 50 business models. The only way to get started is to do the minimum; add states one at a time and adapt as you go. The developers need to become part of the business, and that’s the absolute strength of DevOps, at least as far as I’m concerned.
And a shared, cloudy infrastructure is perfect as a building block. It would be foolish indeed to buy huge servers at the beginning of a project that might go well, fail, or achieve explosive success. You’d have no idea what to buy and any investment would be much too large or much too small. Far better to carve off a piece of a shared infrastructure and allow it to grow as necessary. And the cloudy part? Again, spend as little time as possible customizing – just pick known good configurations from a catalog and take your time with the application instead of the infrastructure.
I was excited to hear how shared cloudy infrastructure and DevOps really work in large organizations. MetLife’s innovative program is a great model for how to approach a promising project.